Saturday, May 25, 2024

Why Mass Effect Legendary Edition is a remaster (not a remake)

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There has been a lot of enthusiasm around Mass Effect Legendary Edition, so much so that we even put it the cover of our last issue. BioWare’s remaster of the famous Commander Shepard trilogy is released on May 14, and while fans have certainly been craving this remaster, one question that keeps coming up is: why not a remake? That’s a valid question, especially since many series, like Resident Evil and Final Fantasy, have instead chosen to remake beloved games to appeal more to modern audiences. However, BioWare didn’t think this was the right approach for the trilogy at this point. In fact, making it a remaster in the truest sense of the word was something the team agreed to very early on, before they even really started.

BioWare began talking about finding a way to preserve Commander Shepard’s story shortly after completing Mass Effect: Andromeda. Each year a small team investigated what it would take – figure out the logistics and figure out exactly which avenue would be best for it. The team always leaned more towards a remaster as they envisioned this endeavor. However, once they finally got everything the green light, the team also wanted to approach it with what project manager Mac Walters calls “a new thought.” It got them thinking once again about what it would take to create a remake or make large-scale changes, leading them down the path of engine upgrades.

“We didn’t want to get stuck in the way we originally thought,” Walters explains. “And so we opened up sort of a Pandora’s Box of ‘What if this is a remake?’ We actually sat down with a team from Epic and told them about Unreal 4 and we said,` `What would it take if we were going to upgrade this and work on it? What we quickly realized was that aside from the complexity, the cost and all of those things, [the trilogy] really would have lost the essence of what it was.

Walters used the example of Kismet, Unreal 3’s visual scripting language, which cannot be used as a dealbreaker. “There’s no way to take this script and have it run automatically in the Unreal 4 engine, which means you rescribe scenes, fights, how levels work, how our user interfaces work.” , it would all have to be redone. In itself, that would just lose the essence of what Mass Effect was. Not to mention, just the way it renders and everything in between too. And so at the end of the day, we decided that Unreal Engine 3 was probably going to be the best version to keep it as it was, but also [provide] an opportunity to enhance it as well.

BioWare wanted to preserve what made Shepard’s story special, providing a nostalgic experience that wouldn’t deviate from fond memories of players in the series. “For a remake, I feel like we would have found ourselves chasing our tails for the magic,” Walters says. “If we just said, ‘We’re leveling everything and we’re just going to try to recreate this from scratch…’ you can’t. It was about the people, so many intangibles – not just the technology – and everything else that put it together. It was a beloved, highly regarded franchise. I don’t think you bother with that.

After playing around with different ways of approaching the return of the trilogy, it was pretty quickly accepted that a remaster was the way to go. It was important to have something that stayed true to what made people fall in love with the show, and BioWare didn’t want to make big changes to the core content that could compromise that.

“It’s a beloved franchise,” Walters says. “If you look at the way the fans talk about Shepard, they say, ‘My Shepard’, right? They’re very possessive of Shepard in a really good, really strong way. And, of course, that doesn’t just mean Shepard’s character – it means Shepard’s story. These are all the choices that are made along the way. And so, very early on, we realized, “ Look, if the choices and the plot point, if we want to say this is what everyone loves, holds and wants to call it in the sense of their memory. of that, [a remake] is off the table. We’re not changing any of those things. It really pushed us further into the [direction] just a good remaster, where it’s like, ‘I love this game and want to relive it all, but I would really love to play it on my current and future material, and I would love to see it brought up to today’s standards. ‘hui. ”

Character and Environment Director Kevin Meek, who has spent the last five years at BioWare working on games such as Anthem, came to the project as a fan of the trilogy and said it was a difficult process to find the right balance. “It was like a Ship of Theseus type thing of, ‘How far can you change that before it’s not the same?? ” Meek asks. “In a remake, you start with a line in the sand, like ‘it’s not the same ship it used to be’. Whereas in a remaster, it’s the same set of tools, the same level, the same characters, just tweaked. This is where I get that nostalgia factor, and I certainly would have lost a lot of that if we had gone the other way.

That’s not to say that the improvements for the remaster are only in the visuals. BioWare has spent time taking fan feedback into account to refine as much as possible. It means Mako improvements, faster loading times in those pesky elevators, turning barren levels into more vivid places, and having a unified control scheme and HUD throughout the trilogy. And that’s only part of additions and improvements.

However, it goes without saying that Mass Effect Legendary Edition is not going to fundamentally change or redefine the way you experience Shepard’s story, and that’s okay. As a longtime fan Meek put it best: “For me, it’s that feeling of nostalgia. I still remember the feeling very well … I even feel it sometimes now when opening the Presidium in Mass Effect 1 in Unreal 3 and flying, like this is the Presidium of Mass Effect 1 that I played and loved at the time. And if I did this again, even using largely the same resources and the same base, it is not the same Presidium.

Want to know more about Mass Effect Legendary Edition? Check out our coverage center below and check back regularly as we will have more coverage throughout the month.

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